By Don Meyer
CHICAGO, (January 18, 2011) – The morning was moving fast and he was running late. Curtis Ivanoff had just finished feeding his children cream of wheat cereal and was heading out the door.
He had a lot on his mind – he had just been recommended to assume the position as director of the Alaska Region for the Evangelical Covenant Church when current director Rodney Sawyer retires this summer.
The last thing Ivanoff needed was a ringing telephone. He let it ring, tempted to ignore it, but something inside nudged him to pick it up.
“Good morning,” the voice on the other end greeted him. “This is Governor Sean Parnell.”
The Alaska governor had just finished reading Friday’s Covenant News Service article on Ivanoff’s selection, published on the Covenant website. If elected during the April Alaska Region Annual Meeting, Ivanoff would become the first Native Alaskan to serve in that position.
The governor, a strong supporter of Alaska Christian College, was elected in 2010 to his first full term as governor.
“He congratulated me, said he was excited about my selection, and that he was especially pleased to see a Native Alaskan recommended for such a high position,” Ivanoff related.
“When you said (in the article) that your selection is for the people, that caught my eye,” the governor told Ivanoff. “It is about serving people.” The conversation continued, with Ivanoff reciting the many ways in which Jesus served those around him. “I told the governor that he should know as well as anyone what it is to be a servant of the people, pointing out that Jesus set the way for us – he came to serve.”
Parnell was particularly interested in the story of Moses that Ivanoff shared in the article announcing his selection. “Now let me give you the word to Joshua,” the governor offered: be strong and of good courage.”
“That (call) was pretty special and quite the surprise,” Ivanoff said. “When the governor of your state calls you unexpectedly – reading from the article and making specific references – that just meant a lot. He is very interested in the common good of the Native Alaskan people. It was a special thing and a great encouragement.”